One Year Later, Charges Finally Dropped Against Bay Area Inauguration Day Protesters

PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release January 19, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO, January 18, 2018 -- Chief Assistant DA Shannon Woo announced the formal dismissal of charges against 11 activists, known as the J20 Resisters, who participated in protests on last year's Inauguration Day. DA George Gascón has faced harsh criticism for squandering resources in pursuit of this case. “The District Attorney could have chosen not to charge the J20 resisters from day one, instead he chose to put our clients through the criminal process, wasting government resources for almost a year, knowing full well he never intended to take this case to trial, which deputy district attorney Shannon Woo acknowledged on the record today,” stated Gabriela Lopez, member of the National Lawyers Guild - San Francisco chapter and defense attorney for Molly Jane Hammond. Once charges were filed against the J20 Resisters, the DA encouraged them to accept pretrial diversion (PTD), which seeks to divert certain offenders from traditional criminal processes, re-stating this option at various points through the process. The Resisters refused the PTD from the beginning, citing ethical opposition to the criminalization of protest. Finally, the DA dropped the charged against them instead.

"We decided to risk trial instead of taking diversion, because solidarity doesn’t end with putting our bodies on the line – we also need to leverage our privilege in the (in)justice system. We refused to be intimidated by threats and manipulations of the state, and we encourage people to take a stand and be unafraid. We can win, we have won, and we will continue to fight until justice emerges," says J20 Resister, Molly Jane Hammond.

The day of victory for the local J20 Resisters is shared with the national resistance movement. On the same day the local Resisters’ case was dismissed, 129 DC protesters’ cases were dismissed as well. But the U.S. Attorney’s Office continues to seek multiple felony convictions for 59 of the people swept up in a mass arrest at the ‘antifascist and anticapitalist march’ during Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2017. The local J20 Resisters are committed to using their platform to fight for dismissal of all cases against Inauguration day protesters.

The J20 Resisters also support the Black Pride 4, who were arrested during Columbus Pride on June 17, 2017. They took action in opposition to the June 16 acquittal of Jeronimo Yanez, the St. Anthony, Minnesota, police officer who killed Philando Castile. The Black Pride 4 continue to face charges and are scheduled to start trial February 5th, 2018.

Kendal Blum, another J20 Resister, speaks to this commitment of solidarity: “We stand with resisters across the country who are still fighting. We will take this momentum and channel it into getting the charges against the DC J20 Defenders and the Columbus Black Pride 4 dropped. This is a win not just for each of us, but for all of our communities and all those with whom we stand in solidarity.”

On Saturday, the J20 Resisters will carry banners of solidarity for national activists, marching alongside GABRIELA National Alliance of Women at the Women’s March, who will march to “RISE against fascism; RESIST the militarization of our lands, communities, and bodies; and UNITE for self-determination.” Even in light of this victory, the J20 Resisters continue to stand in resistance to the current presidential administration -- and work toward justice for all activists arrested fighting for social justice. The J20 Resisters will host a victory party in Oakland to fundraise for the Black Pride 4. They'll post details on their website and Facebook page.

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PRESS CONTACT Ray Himmelman, Friends of J20 Resisters, rayhimmelman@gmail.com / 612.240.7285 Rose Mishaan, Defense Attorney, NLG-SF, rose.mishaan@gmail.com / (415) 565-9600

The National Lawyers Guild is an 80 year old human rights bar association. The Bay Area Chapter has hundreds of members – lawyers, legal workers, law students, and jailhouse lawyers – throughout Northern California. The Guild’s social justice work includes providing legal support and Legal Observers at progressive demonstrations all over the country. More information at www.nlgsf.org